submission guidelines

Submissions for Spring 2019 are closed.

Submissions are welcome from current Northern Arizona University undergraduates, as well as students who have graduated in the past three years.


The editors read submissions anonymously, so please remove any identifying information from your submission Attach your work to an email, and name the genre to which you’re submitting in the subject line. Include a cover letter in the body of your email. In your cover letter, please indicate any sensitive content; we may include trigger warnings if published. In addition, please indicate your current status at NAU (e.g., senior, junior) or, if you have graduated, please note the year. Further details about cover letters can be found below. The work cannot have been previously published in magazines or on personal websites. We do not accept simultaneous submissions.


We've published short stories, creative essays, critical essays, video essays, poems, and visual art, and we'd like to publish music, comic strips, and anything else our community is creating. Guidelines for our standard sections are below, but feel free to send us anything you think we might enjoy.


We look forward to reading your best!


We accept essays from any department that bring a modern, critical perspective to contemporary texts (including video games, film, or popular culture) or works from the far past. Please submit essays in MLA format. We prefer essays under 5,000 words but will consider longer pieces as long as they are as fascinating as they are long. We also accept video essays and essays with multimedia content. 
In your cover letter, we would like you to include the intended audience of your work and how your work is relevant to a broader audience. While we understand that many of these essays are written for a specific class, The Tunnels is looking for submissions that do not presume special knowledge on the part of the reader.


We're looking for all forms of creative nonfiction, which we define as narrative based on factual content with your own creative spin. This includes personal narrative, memoir, braided essays, odes, letters, literary/photo journalism, lyric essays, and travel writing. Please only submit essays which are under 5,000 words. 


We are open to any type of narrative, especially pieces that challenge our assumptions about what fiction can do. We enjoy all styles and genres, so if your piece doesn't have a home, submit it to us.  Please limit your submission to 10,000 words or less.


We are looking for inspired poems about moments that inspired you. Your submission can be up to five pages, with any amount of poems within that limit. 


We are now accepting student and alumni art submissions! Your work does not have to be Flagstaff or NAU related directly, but please incorporate a brief artist’s statement explaining why this is relevant for our literary magazine.

Questions about the cover letter? Check here.

You should address the people who will be reading your work: Poetry Editors, Fiction Editors, Nonfiction Editors, or Academic Editors. Please tell us why you think your writing is well suited to our magazine—mentioning work we’ve published that you enjoyed and that is similar to your own writing is particularly useful. If there’s anything we should know about you in order to best approach your writing, please let us know.


Here’s a template:


Dear [Section] Editors,


Please consider the attached [genre], “Title” (word count for prose), for publication in The Tunnels. I read the most recent issue and particularly enjoyed “Title.” I am attempting to do [      ] in a similar way in this   [     ]. I hope you will find that this submission features the [language from their submission guidelines] that you are looking for.


[Optional Bio.]


I thank you for taking the time to read my submission.


Here are two cover letters, written by actual submitters—the first is the simplest version, the second is the most complex, and both a very thoughtful and professional (and we accepted both of these submissions!):


Dear Editors of The Tunnels Magazine,


Please find the attached Academic Nonfiction essay analyzing the hit television series ____________. This essay would be a good fit for The Tunnels because it focuses on the ecofeminist aspects of a contemporary television series in a way that has never been done before. If selected, this would be my first academic publication. Thank you for reading my submission.



Recent NAU Graduate

And another:



Dear Poetry Editors at The Tunnels,


Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to review my submissions for The Tunnels magazine. Much like you, I am interested in the “beating heart of writing,” namely in the relationship of artists to their work. However, I am also interested in the more existential notion of this idea: that of the person to their life. It seems to me that so much of getting on in this world, whether as a person or as an artist (and of course these are not exclusive categories), comes up against the question of how we should go on living, even sometimes against the question of whether or not we should go on. This question is a hard one with no easy answer, perhaps no proper answer at all such that it would seem to me that the act of living is, itself, an art to be learned—and what better, what more intimate and enduring a mentor in this endeavor than literature, than poetry?


To explore these problems, I have attached five poems that deal in questions of despair and inspiration, the struggles internal to these concepts, and their correlation to the creation of art. Between the first three poems, problems of inadequacy and incapability are raised, sometimes even falling into complete desperation and utter anguish. This is particularly the case with “First Poem” which was written the morning following the tragic events at the Pulse nightclub in Florida. However, the sentiments in “Second Poem” and “Third Poem” begin to offer solutions to those problems, or at least ways of maybe dealing with them.


That all being said, I hope there is something in these poems that you could see as corresponding with the goals and intentions of The Tunnels. Again, thank you for your time.

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